Rail Maps


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ok im lookin for some current or semi current maps of the NS mainline route between johnstown and altoona. can someone point me toward a website that might have these maps. i need them to be somewhat detailed, enough that it shows the tracks and the number of them and all of the siding and industry track. not just like a signal track from point a-b like google does.
www.terraserverusa.com features USGS 1:24k topo maps, many of those a few years old, ideal for many route projects. Railroad lines often bear the names of fallen flags, like Western Maryland or Baltimore & Ohio. Number of tracks, sidings and other valuable details.

TerraServer-USA comes with UTM coordinates and supports automatic map processing via WMS.

I got some of those topo-maps into TRS a while ago, and found for Bailey yard (this is not necessarily true for any other place) the the number of parallel rail lines shown is purely diagrammatic; each line does not represent one individual track, but rather the area filled by a mass of tracks. Perhaps it might not be the most reliable diagram source for yard situations.
These maps are 1:24000, i.e. 1 mm on the (paper) map becomes 24 m in nature. Hence tracks in a yard most often need to be schematic. Nevertheless these maps are an excellent source since we all know there is a bit more topographic data to a route than yards.

One of my USGS 1:24000 Potomac examples with TransDEM again (shading and terrain coloring provided by DEM):

Click on image for a larger view with full details. Grid lines are 1000 m, elevations in feet.

terra serve got me some detail but that problem was it didnt have any images of the outlining area. only the city. and you could just barely make the track out. But the google maps gave me a general idea it seperated between 2 lines and things such as this. maybe if i try to combine the two.
There is nothing better for route building than topographic maps. Google Maps or the equivalent from MS are vector based road maps, useful for automobile navigation but leaving much to desire for topographic features.

So, what's wrong with the topo map?

And there is no easy way how to project those vector road maps on DEM based terrain. You are going to use DEMs, are you? Altoona cries for a DEM.

I am working on the same permise for the N&W's Norfolk division. The best thing to do is find a contact with the NS in your area and get track charts of the section you are interested in, if you are looking yards ask for a blueprint of the yards in question. It is best to look for the material from the time period you are interested in, especially since 9/11, anything to current may not be available. Also, order the 7.5 min quads from USGS for the section youhave an interest in and scan them as as adobe document. You you get up with the detail without much distortion.
Also, order the 7.5 min quads from USGS for the section youhave an interest in and scan them as as adobe document. You you get up with the detail without much distortion.

There is nothing wrong with purchasing the quads in question to support USGS for their great work. However, manually aligning scanned paper maps can be a challenge.

The way MS TerraServer USA (www.terraserverusa.com) presents the USGS 7.5 min quads (aka 1:24k topo maps aka 1:24k DRGs), there is no distortion in them. The images are aligned with the UTM / NAD83 grid, the primary coordinate reference system for the United States. You can process these maps either manually or automatically. For the manual approach, TerraServer USA supports making image dumps in jpg format and offers an info mode with full coordinate values. For the automatic approach there is the WMS server interface. WMS is a web service, defined by the Open Geospatial Consortium, which allows application software do communicate with the server map data base. You will need an appropriate tool for this.

As people have written before, due to scale, 1:24k is not able to provide exact track diagrams for yards. But between yards I have not come across any comparable source of information, both in accuracy and effectiveness.

Effectiveness also means that these map images can easily be combined with DEMs - thanks to the map coordinates.

The Teraserver maps seem to date mostly from the 70's, which is great for identifying lines that have been pulled up, but for newer lines you still need to go in person to see where the changes have taken place.
Which is a pretty good excuse to go railfanning.:D

:cool: Claude
Thnx ill look him up, And as for the railfaning i am a avid railfan and i live 15 mins away from the NS mainline Near Cresson PA and about 25 mins From Altoona Pa im sure of track location between Cresson And Altoona what im not sure of is Cresson - Johnstown and the yards in Altoona and Johnstown. And since the car shops in Altoona are close im not sure whats track is still there or not, Because i wish to model it before it was abandoned 2 years ago. At least the Locomotive shops are still there but for how long?

Plateweld: i couldnt find the person your speaking of
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To avoid misunderstanding: "fishlips at work" did not provide the DEMs. What he did was creating Trainz map templates, based on DEMs and generated with HOG. They have ground textures originating from TIGER data which give a general idea of where to put tracks, roads and watercourses.

Such a map template can serve as a good starter to familiarize yourself with furnishing a DEM based route but may lack some of the flexibility you will have if you are in control of the entire geo data based map creation process.

Top quality NED type DEMs in 1/3 or 1 arc sec horizontal resolution are available from USGS Seamless Server here: http://seamless.usgs.gov/

If you need exact data for railroad you can download files in different format from the ''North American Atlas - Railroads'' from the Canadian Govt web site. The web address is http://geogratis.cgdi.gc.ca/geogratis/en/collection/detail.do?id=27626

These are vector maps and does include the exact track layout, elevation, plus many more details. It is a joint venture between Mexico, USA (USGS) and Canada.

I don't know if there's a tool to convert that data to a suitable file format for you to use in TRS (let me know if there's one ;) )
Where is this detailed data hidden? I can only find the 1:1 million railroad layer which isn't very attractive for route building.

Ok, i see what you mean.

That data is not available online or if it is you need to pay for it - sorry.

I use maps from MSN website (Mappoint technology), here's a sample of such image. Coordinates of it (center of the image is at 45.48048422333641 by 73.68248681901949)

Scale :


Best way is not to use the scale value but to get multiple gif like above to fill a tile (let's say a large gif or jpeg) then to use that tile to layout your tracks and roads.

I used a similar technique to build airports with aerial photos in flight simulator.